Assault, Yes. Drugs, No.

When I first saw on the FAFSA that students are ineligible for financial student aid if they have been "if you have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs" while being supplied with student aid, I misread it as referring to crime in general. Anyone have an idea why drugs are singled out? As opposed to, say, assault? I'd rather have a drug user on campus than a dangerous sociopath, and so, I would guess, would the vast majority of Americans.



yitz.. said...

i don't agree w/ your argument. you wouldn't want serious (with previous arrests) drug users on your campus either for a number of reasons, if someone is dealing drugs on campus, it will affect many many people mainly in a detrimental fashion, and it will likely spread and exert an ever-increasing influence until the authorities will have little ability to control it.

On the other hand, a person arrested for assault might assault a few people in college, but they would most likely be caught and jailed before they'd done lasting damage to the institution.

My problem with the rule goes like this: Drug addiction is a state that one can overcome. By ruling them out of financial aid, you are ensuring they will never be able to recover from their previous failings.

But, the 'pshat' of the law probably works very simply: they don't want to be funding someone's drug habbit.

YodaYid said...

Part of the question is how detrimental drugs really are. I think the case against marijuana, for example, is seriously overstated. As far as I can tell, it's not addictive or even dangerous. And "drugs" almost always means marijuana on college campuses.

Binge drinking is a far bigger problem on college campuses today, but there are no provisions against using loan money for alcohol (the FAFSA doesn't ask if the student has been convicted of drunk driving, for example). A similar argument could be (and has been) made against tobacco, excessive television watching, video games, and almost any other habit-forming activity. There seems to a double standard when it comes to marijuana.

Drug addiction is of course a bad thing. But a student with a serious drug habit needs help, not rejection or prison (as you pointed out). And most students are smart enough not to get themselves into that situation in the first place.

Finally, it should be up to the school to determine what sort of people are allowed on campus. If a school is afraid of drug dealers on campus, it should make that part of their selection process (the FAFSA rule targets users as well as dealers, by the way). Once the student has been accepted and is seeking financial assistance from a third party, it should no longer be an issue.